Be an Antiques Dealer

By Eric Hammer

Flickr Photo by Bart Speelman

If you love history and antiques, one of the best jobs you can possibly take would be to become an antiques dealer. After all, this means that you can actually hold the antiques in your hands and experience history first hand while at the same time earning a living. You can also pick and choose the best antiques for your own personal collection if you happen to enjoy collecting them in addition to being an antiques dealer.

Of course, the job isn't for everyone - you need to be comfortable with handling different antiques and knowing exactly what each of them is worth. It is also important to have an eye for detail so that you know whether or not a particular product happens to be genuine or not. This becomes especially important when dealing with antiquities because there is such a tremendous trade in fakes in that particular business.

How Much Can You Make?

Antiques dealers make a wide variety of incomes, ranging from around $30,000 per year to as much as $100,000 per year. It depends largely on the quality of your knowledge and where you happen to be working.

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Remember that as an antiques dealer you are primarily a salesman. This means that your job is to make sure that the products that you have for sale actually do get sold. You have to be able to articulate a story behind each and every piece that you have for sale. Remember that antiques are not valuable just because they're antiques. They're valuable because there is history behind them and people love stories, especially when the stories can be proven. This means for example that you are more likely to make a sale as an antiques dealer if you can prove that a Louis XIV chair was in fact owned by Louis XIV rather than simply being from that time period.

Keep in mind as well that antiques dealers tend to break down into two distinct groups. There are antiques dealers who work primarily with actual antiques (i.e. from the past few hundred years) and then there are antiquities dealers who deal with items from the ancient world. The big difference is that an antiques dealer will be concerned with who owned a product previously whereas an antiquities dealer will be concerned with where the object was found and what was found alongside it.

You'll also have to be aware of local laws regarding antiquities as some objects cannot be sold legally without the proper export licenses attached to them. That's because there is a tremendous trade in stolen antiquities from all over the world which has become the bane of legitimate antiques dealers in the Western hemisphere.

Qualifications / Requirements

In most states, there are no formal licensing requirements to become an antiques dealer, however you will need to be quite knowledgeable about your area of expertise. This also means knowing what you don't know and how to find out the information about the object that you know nothing about. Generally, it's a good idea to have a degree in art history in order to become an antiques dealer.

It's also important to remember that on occasion you will need a specific license, including for appraising antiques brought to you by people and if you wish to become an auctioneer, which many antiques dealers do.

First Steps

Start by visiting antiques shows and learning as much as you can about the particular area that you are interested in. Then, talk to other antiques dealers. Most are passionate about their particular subject areas and are more than willing to share their knowledge with you.


Check out these helpful resources to learn more about becoming an antiques dealer:

Grays Antiques: How to Become an Antiques Dealer - An excellent resource on becoming an antiques dealer which is offered by a company which employs more than 200 of them.

Princeton Review: Antiques Dealer - A good overall guide to what it takes to become an antiques dealer.

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